Adventure cruises are an unforgettable way to travel. It's more than a holiday - it's an expedition!
A cruise doesn't have to be all tropical islands, poolside lounging and evening shows - not that there's anything wrong with that style of holiday! There are also adventure cruises on offer from a range of different lines, which provide intrepid cruise lovers with some exciting sights, activities and travel memories to cherish. Adventure cruises, often taking place on luxury and boutique cruise lines, can get travellers up close and personal with the places they visit, and are very focused on immersion in local cultures and nature.
Adventure cruise is somewhat of a loose definition - an adventure can be different things to different people! However, there are some itineraries and destinations which stand out from the others. Lines with small ships which can visit smaller ports and get passengers closer to the action are the way to go for an adventurous cruise experience - such as Azamara Club, Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Paul Gauguin for Tahiti tours, North Star for amazing intrepid journeys in northern Australia, and Celebrity's Celebrity Xpedition.
What sets an adventure cruise apart is not just the destination itself, but the small and lesser-known ports visited, the immersive tours offered, and the special touches offered by the line: rigid-hulled inflatable boats for excursions, watersports marinas, dive equipment and even a helicopter in the case of North Star cruises. Passengers come away with a better understanding of and affinity for the places they have visited, a sense of connection that can be missing on a whirlwind tour of a typical cruise port.
Choose your adventure
Where can you get to on one of our more adventurous cruise itineraries? Favourites include the Galapagos Islands which are filled with unique and amazing wildlife, Australasia and some of the remote island chains such as the Chatham Islands, South American cities and towns, the cultural delights of the Baltic Sea, and plenty more enticing destinations. An adventure cruise might see you floating amongst fjords, traversing canals, calling in to tiny islands and observing wildlife that most people will never see in their lifetimes. Onboard luxury is just a bonus in comparison to those incredible opportunities - but it is certainly a fantastic perk and there is nothing quite like coming in from an intrepid excursion to the ultimate in creature comforts, a gourmet meal and an open bar!
A cruise isn’t just about the incredible experiences and meals you’ll have on board the ship - it’s also about the unforgettable adventures you’ll find in every port you visit. Demand more from your cruise excursions than the norm. Hear the rushing river from a kayak as you paddle across its flowing current, see tree tops from the air as you zipline through their crisp green leaves, and admire the sheer drop of the cliff as you abseil down its rocky ridge.
Book an adventure cruise for the opportunity to go a step further than the traditional sightseeing tour when you’re in port.
Adventures in Sydney
Take to the trees with nothing but high ropes and your own daring on an exciting forest tour with Trees Adventure. The tree tops courses are designed to challenge you and show you what you’re capable of, while also introducing you to the beauty of some of Australia’s most gorgeous forest locations. You’ll tackle rope bridges, zip lines, wooden obstacles, flying foxes and more as you make your way through a two-hour course and slowly climb to higher levels and take on harder challenges. There are two different Trees Adventure courses in New South Wales, and you can try your hand at either of them on an Australian cruise to Sydney.
Embrace your inner monkey as you head to the canopies around New South Wales for a rip-roaring adventure with TreeTops. There are three tour options to choose from. You can venture into the TreeTop Adventure Park for a classic experience of zip lines, cargo nets, Tarzan swings, trapezes, and flying foxes. Or, you can try the TreeTop Safari in Western Sydney, which adds a bush-guided aspect to the experience and is the only canopy tour in the world that includes views of a major city. Finally, take a zip on the wild side with the TreeTop Crazy Rider on the Central Coast for innovative rollercoaster-style ziplines - including the longest and wildest in the world. All of these tour options are available to you when you sail into Sydney Harbour on an Australian cruise.
Where: Plough & Harrow East, Western Sydney Parklands, 749 Elizabeth Drive, Abbotsbury
Cumberland State Forest, 95 Castle Hill Rd, West Pennant Hills NSW 2125
Blue Gum Hills Regional Park, Minmi Rd, Minmi, Jesmond NSW 2299
Ourimbah State Forest, 1 Red Hill Rd, Wyong Creek, NSW 2259
The Outback is one of Australia’s most iconic destinations, but it’s a place not many will get to explore as the majority of our nation’s visitors stick to the cities. Get out of the concrete jungles and into the Australian heartland with a tour from Tri State Safaris. Tour options include short half-day trips, plenty of one-day excursions, and even massive eight-day adventures. You’ll have your pick of a range of fascinating Outback sights such as the Menindee Lakes, the Mutawintji Historic Site, indigenous rock art collections, and the Barrier Ranges. Tri State Safaris is based out of Sydney, so you can join one of these adventurous tours when you cruise into the New South Wales capital.
Where: 422 Argent Street, Broken Hill, New South Wales, 2880
Try something out of the ordinary and take an off-roading tour through some of New South Wales’ most untouched, unbelievable, and unforgettable places with Detour Adventures. During a 4WD tour, you’ll learn about the natural environment of the National Parks, as well as plenty about the cultural history of the area. If there’s something specific you want to see, such as mining areas or historic ruins, the Detour Adventures team is always happy to organise a quick ‘detour’. You can add fishing, hiking, and gold prospecting to your trip if you’re interested in more than just an off-road experience. You’ll find Detour Adventures in Bathurst, which is three hours from Sydney. Make your way there when you arrive in New South Wales on an Australian cruise.
Where: 1 Kendall Ave, Bathurst NSW 2795
Time Out Adventures
From segway tours and laser clay shooting, to bumper balls and paddle boats and everything in between,Time Out Adventures has your Australia adventure cruise excursion covered. Perfect for family day trips or joining friends for a bit of friendly competition, you’ll have a fantastic day out making precious memories. With multiple locations around Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, to name a few - you’re sure to find an activity at one of the main Australian cruise ship ports. Check the website to find a location near you.
Phone: +61 1300 090 767
Adventures in Newcastle
Sand Dune Adventures will introduce you to the dunes of the New South Wales coast in a way that will leave your heart pounding and your camera memory filled to the brim. This company explores the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, and you can experience it all on a hummer tour or on a quad bike. The hummers are ideal if you have inexperienced drivers or young ones in tow - or if you’d simply rather keep your hands free for photos. Should you take a quad bike tour however, you’ll be the one riding the controls over the dunes. And if the kids (aged 7+) do want to try driving, there are mini 90cc quad bikes for them to join in. Book your seat on a dunes tour for the next time you’re in port on an Australian cruise through Newcastle.
Where: 2163 Nelson Bay Rd, Williamtown NSW 2318
Adventures in Melbourne
Do you prefer a relaxing paddle down a river, or a more adrenalin-pumping mountain bike adventure? GORATS - Great Ocean Road Adventure Tours - can customise your experience to suit the exact type of excursion you’re after. The team at GORATS know all the best hidden spots of Victoria, and use places such as the Otway Ranges, Geelong, the You Yangs, and the Great Ocean Road to host their guests on adventures of all kinds. Go mountain biking with an experienced guide and a mint-condition bike for the best tour experience and see this gorgeous region from an entirely new perspective. GORATS is based in Anglesea, so you’ll be able to take a spin with their bikes on any cruise into Melbourne.
Where: 67 Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, VIC 3230
It’s a little-known fact that the gold rush of Victoria in the 1800s once saw more ounces of gold come out of the region than any country in the world (outside of California). The first discovery in 1823 helped put Australia on the map, and today, you can try your own hand at gold prospecting and learn more about this fascinating history with Gold and Relics. Tours on offer include short half-day and full-day excursions within Victoria, as well as 7-, 10- and 14-day adventures into the Australian outback to search for this elusive and valuable material. You’ll travel with skilled guides, and regardless of whether you’ve never touched a gold pan before or have been at it for years, you’ll find an experience suited to your level. Gold prospecting is truly a unique Australian cruise experience, and you can book your spot for your next port day in Melbourne.
Where: 41/43 Albert St, Creswick VIC 3363
Mountain biking is a beloved sport for many, and Mountain Bike Tours Australia will help introduce you to some of the country’s top trails and views. You don’t need to be experienced in mountain biking to go on a tour, but you will need at least a good level of fitness, as the shortest tour includes roughly two hours of pedalling. For the more experienced, you can try epic trips such as the three-day Mt Buller tour, or you can customise your own trip for an adventure that best suits you. Most tours are one day experiences, so you’ll easily fit one in when you pull into port for a day on shore in Melbourne during an Australian cruise.
Where: 42 Macaulay Street, Williamstown North, Victoria, 3016
Sea All Dolphin Swims provide the opportunity to swim with dolphins, and 30 - 40 seals in their temporary home at Chinaman’s Hat bay. The company offers private charters, great group booking deals, and even surfing lessons. Located at Pope’s Eye marine park just 90 minutes from Melbourne’s cruise ports, these half-day tours are suitable for all ages. Whether you’re a regular to the water or you’re a complete newbie, the passionate staff love what they do and are happy to accommodate any and all levels of snorkelers. Generally starting close to the shore, get a feel for the snorkeling equipment before you take to the ocean. These fantastic 3.5 hour tours and dolphin swims will leave you with memories to cherish forever and are a great way to begin or end a Melbourne adventure cruise.
Where: Shop 3, Building 6, Boat Harbour, Queenscliff, 499 J9, Australia
Specialising in dolphin swims and seal sightseeing adventures, Moonraker Dolphin Swims is one of Australia’s most eco-friendly adventure companies. Enjoy this fantastic 3-hour snorkel trip before or after your adventure cruise from Melbourne. Get up close and personal with these friendly sea creatures when you book a regular tour with Moonraker, or opt in for a private charter if there is a group of you. Dive into the waters at Port Phillip Bay and explore the depths that the beautiful, colourful fish call home, see the seals playing, and of course, dance with the dolphins. This snorkeling tour is ideal to add on to the beginning or the end of your cruise from Melbourne, and the drive from the ports to Moonraker Dolphin Swims is just 1.5 hours.
Where: Esplanade Rd, Sorrento, Victoria, 3943, Australia
Adventures in Adelaide
Swimming with dolphins is a surreal experience that you can only enjoy in a few places around the world, and Kangaroo Island is one of them. Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures is the only licensed tour for swimming with the dolphins on the island. They have been operating in the area for 10 years now, which means that they have built up a high enough level of trust with the local marine life that the dolphins will come up and say hello as the boat arrives. Your tour includes tasty home-made goodies and tea and coffee, and you may even sea a seal or two during the trip. Kangaroo Island is less than four hours from Adelaide, so you can enjoy a swim with the dolphins during a South Australian cruise.
Where: 9 Chapman Terrace, Kingscote, SA 5223
Adventures in Tasmania
Don’t be fooled by the name - the Dismal Swamp is simply a nickname for the Tarkine Wilderness, and it’s anything but dismal. Dismal Swamp Tasmania is the company that will introduce you to this swathe of lush landscape, with its walkways and viewing platforms over the Dismal Swamp sinkhole. It’s a long way down (360 metres by path in fact) but you can get there in under 15 seconds by taking the quick route - a thrilling 110-metre slide that takes you to the base. Once you’re down there, explore the 1.2 kilometre boardwalk that winds its way around the swamp and through the forest, so you can experience this wilderness as it was thousands of years ago. Togari and the Dismal Swamp are a few scenic hours from Launceston, so you can make your way there during a shore excursion on a cruise to Tasmania.
Where: 26059 Bass Highway, Togari TAS 7330
Australia is a country of adventure, and there are few companies that embody this cultural point of pride like Aardvark Adventures. It’s a tour company that can take you caving, white water rafting, kayaking, and abseiling. Aardvark Adventures is also licensed to operate in working forests, crown land, national parks and hydro Tasmania properties, which means that you’ll leave no stone unturned and no view unappreciated during your excursion. And for the true thrill-seekers, this is where you’ll be able to tackle the world’s highest commercial abseil. The team is based just out of Hobart, so you’ll easily be able to fit a tour in during your time in port on a cruise to Tasmania.
Where: Anfield Street, Glenorchy, TAS 7010
Named as one of the world’s top 10 sea kayaking adventures, and one of the top nine attractions in Tasmania, Roaring 40s Kayaking offers an unforgettable experience on the water. From lessons, to short city tours, to several days of oceanic exploration by kayak, there are tours suited for all ability levels. Trips include excursions based around Hobart city, Flinders Island, and the wilderness, each of which offers its own unique sights such as sandy beaches, native pine groves, and jagged cliffs. Keep in mind that tours tend to sell out well in advance, so don’t leave it to the last minute. It’s best to make your booking as soon as you know which day you’ll arrive in Hobart during your Australian cruise.
Where: Macquarie Street, South Hobart, TAS 7004
Adventures in Queensland
The Red Cat Adventures charter boat company provides top quality boat tours and outstanding trips to the Whitsundays, Whitehaven Beach and Airlie Beach. Head out on a range of trips, including overnight sails and day outings, and experience the sparkling waters from the comfort of the boat, or sign on for snorkeling in the crystal clear bays. This award winning company aims to make sure every single person has the best experience on board and has the adventure of a lifetime. Begin or end your Australia adventure cruise with Red Cat Adventures; it’s a 2-hour drive from the city of Mackay, or 8 hours from Cairns.
Leaves from: Abell Point Marina, Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach, Queensland, 4802, Australia
Call: +61 04 57332287
Feel the wind in your hair and the sand beneath your toes when you book a 4X4 tour with Drop Bear Adventures. Award winning, and highly ranked in the tourism industry, let this adventurous duo share with you their love and passion for Fraser Island. Whether you book a 2 day - 1 night Fraser Island tour, or a 3 day - 2 night camping safari along the shore, experience the region through the eyes of a local. With the additional options of heading on a sailing tour of Whitsundays, or trying your luck at whalewatching, Drop Bear Adventures are your one-stop tour company offering everything you need to explore Fraser Island. Begin or end your cruise from Brisbane with a Fraser Island adventure you’ll never forget.
Where: 33a Rene Street, Noosaville, Queensland, 4566, Australia
Adrenaline inducing thrills await when you book a Cape York Motorcycle Adventure. A tour with this award winning company will be one of the most exciting trips you ever take. Head into the rainforest for a 1 or 2-day trek, add in an outback safari leg, or spend 8 spectacular riding days journeying from Cairns up to the northernmost point of Australia. These all inclusive tours mean you don’t have to worry about accommodation, food, ferry rides, or fuel. As well as riding through some of Australia’s most stunning landscapes, you can visit attractions and museums all along the way. Cape York Motorcycle Adventures is just a 17-minute drive from the Cairns cruise ports, a tour the ideal way to spend a few days on either side of your adventure cruise.
Where: Lot 4, Captain Cook Highway, Barron, Queensland, 4878, Australia
Phone: +61 7 4055 0050
Dive into the depths of an underwater wonderland with Coral Sea Dreaming Dive and Sail. This 2 day/1 night excursion will have you experiencing underwater wonderlands like never before. Discover the joys of up to 9 reefs along the Queensland coast, and explore colourful coral, schools of hundreds of fish, majestic sea turtles, reef sharks and more. With a group size maximum of 12, these intimate tours have the ability to be more flexible, more hands on, and allow for extended dive times. It doesn’t matter if you're a seasoned diver or this is your first time, the staff and crew are more than happy to accommodate all levels, and are excited to show you the ropes. Coral Sea Dreaming is located on the Marlin Marina, just 2km from the ports in Cairns; perfect for a weekend before or after your Australia adventure cruise.
Where: Marlin Marina, 1 Spence St Cairns, Queensland, 4870, Australia
Head to the Gold Coast and begin your underwater adventure with Sporty’s Scuba Diving. Turtles, rays, sharks and schools of colourful tropical fish await your visit to this amazing part of Australia. With no previous experience needed, this is the perfect outing for a whole new look at Queensland’s treasures below. Choose from a variety of day or night tours, with diving depths between 5 and 35 metres. Just a few minutes drive from the Gold Coast ports, step off your adventure cruise, and continue the thrills below the waves. Dive and snorkel trips to Cook Island Marine Park, the Tweed Coast and the Gold Coast Seaway are scheduled on a regular basis, and you won’t want to miss this incredible experience.
Where: 32 Strathaird Road, Bundall, Queensland, 4217, Australia
Adventures in Western Australia
There’s nothing quite like the Karijini National Park in northern Western Australia. Experience the park in its entirety when you abseil, swim, float, hike and paddle your way through it with West Oz Active Adventure Tours. For people with active spirits and a thirst for adventure, the West Oz Active Adventure Tours operates out of the Karijini Eco Retreat centre, and promises to give you a thrilling experience like no other. The perfect mix of adrenaline, culture and incredible nature, drop down into wide canyons, wade through flowing river beds, and if you’re super keen, head out on a multi-day tour. Explore Karijini National Park before your WA adventure cruise departure or upon its return.
Where: Karijini Eco Retreat (off) Weano Rd, Karijini National Park, Western Australia, 6751, Australia
Explore the spectacular Karijini National Park and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia with The Flying Sandgroper for an experience like no other. Established in 2012 by Pete West, The Flying Sandgroper offers several tours in the region, all with excellent guides ready to show you the land and sea they love. Learn about the geography, history and people, stay in brilliant accommodation, and enjoy delicious food and fantastic company along the way. While there is no age restriction, the tours are geared towards adventurous travellers, ready to get active in the Australian desert, and dive to the deeps of the breathtaking reef. Continue your adventure cruise on land by jumping on a tour bus and heading into the Karijini National Park to begin your tour.
Where: C/o Nameless Valley Road, Tom Price, Western Australia, 6751 Australia
Phone: +61 04 1963 7300
Adventures in the New South Wales
Camp out for a weekend and take part in a fantastic course full of tips and tricks for taking better photos with Adventure Photography. Created and taught by Luke Adams, you’ll learn the three Ps of adventure photography: Plan, Photograph, and Process. You’ll be guided through programmes such as Adobe Lightroom, and when you leave at the end of the weekend, a workbook full of the information you’ve learnt is yours to take away. Before or after your adventure cruise from Sydney, head 3.5 hours northwest to Dunns Swamp campground and start documenting your travels like a pro with Adventure Photography.
Where: Dunns Swamp, Wollemi National Park, Rylstone New South Wales, 2849, Australia
Phone: +61 0401 918 786
Adventures in New Zealand
Have you ever eaten a meal in pitch darkness? This is the signature experience on the menu at Dans le noir? To heighten the sensation of the unknown, you’ll be eating a meal without knowing what’s on your plate, and you’ll be sharing the experience with a collection of others around you. It’s a unique adventure in a world of its own, where you’ll spend the evening trying to pick exact flavours, and giggling with your dining mates as you cherish each bite all the more when you successfully move it from your plate to your mouth. Dans le noir? Is a dining experience in The Rydges hotel of Auckland, so you’ll be able to stop by for a bite during your New Zealand cruise.
Where: 59 Federal Street, Auckland 1010
Adventures in the United Kingdom
Tri-Adventure is all about the thrill of the race. It’s a UK company that organises a range of race activities, including mountain biking, navigation, and trail running in the Surrey Hills. The name behind the company is world-renowned adventurer Adam Marcinowicz, who has competed in triathlons, adventure races and athletics since 2003, and now runs Tri-Adventure to help share his passion with the world. You can take a navigation course and learn how to find your way and run more efficiently with Adam himself, or you can sign up as a group for a day of exploring by foot or by bike. Based in London, Tri-Adventure is the ideal experience for thrill-seekers on a UK cruise into Dover.
Where: Watford, London, United Kingdom
There’s something about the beautiful English countryside that captures one’s imagination. The rolling hills of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire are no different. Join the passionate team at Cotswolds Adventures for a fantastic cycling trip, walking holiday, or chauffeured tour to experience this idyllic setting in the best way possible as part of your adventure cruise from London. Ideal for groups of up to 7 people, these tours are a fantastic way to meet other international travellers, or enjoy quality time with your family or friends. Cotswolds Adventures will have you exploring every nook and cranny of the streets of sweet Cotswold-brick villages, having a pint at numerous pubs along the way, and standing in awe of the history coating these English towns. With 4 different tours to choose from, and just a few hours journey from the cruise port in London, the tour will pick you up anywhere within the Cotswolds and return you there in the evening.
Where: 23 Old Hospital Lawn, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 4GA, United Kingdom
Call : +44 1453 790725
Adventures in Vanuatu
It’s hard to imagine the stunning island of Vanuatu being more beautiful than it already is, but Tamanu on the Beach sure brings that something extra to the South Pacific. Just 20 minutes from the cruise port at Port Vila, Tamanu on the Beach is a breathtaking private white sand beach resort, with luxury villas, delectable dining options, and even a purpose built wedding chapel right on the beach. Enjoy massages, sunset cocktails, and beach bonfires; fall asleep to the sound of waves rolling onto the shoreline and let your head hit the pillow in the incredibly relaxing accommodation. Perfect for honeymoons, couples getaways or even just a night away with friends, be swept into another world when you book with Tamanu on the Beach.
Where: White Sands Road, Efate, Vanuatu
Adventures in Alaska
Interested in traditional Ketchikan sportfishing and delicious Alaskan seafood? Then plan for a tour with Baranof Fishing Excursions during your Alaskan adventure cruise. You will learn about salmon, halibut, flatfish and more from fishermen who are passionate about teaching you the tips and tricks of the fishing trade. After a day of excitement on the water, you’ll enjoy dining on your catch at the end of the day. Prefer to have a little more flexibility? Book a private charter and spend 6-8 hours out on the sea, controlling your own schedule. Disembark your cruise ship in Ketchikan and head a few kilometers south on the bus to begin your Baranof Fishing Excursion.
Where: 3 Salmon Landing, Ketchikan, Alaska, 99901, United States
Book via phone: +1 907 6179579
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